Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The day we stumbled into Bumbles...

Bumbles Café

Address: 21 River Drive, Gold Coast, Queensland, 4217

Phone: (07) 5538 6668

Open: Thursday, 7am until 10pm
Friday to Wednesday, 7am until 4pm

Perhaps it is unfair to say that Surfers Paradise is notorious for restaurants lacking in atmosphere, filled with tacky furnishings and plagued by poor food. Whether or not this is an exaggeration, Bumbles Café certainly breaks this mould. Originally a milk bar, Bumbles was established at the start of 2000. Eleven years down the track, it’s still favoured by locals and visitors alike. The perfect adjective for this waterside café is ‘adorable.’ Tables and umbrellas dot the street corner with a view of the river, but the interior is even more inviting.

The café is divided into four areas. As you enter there are three pinewood tables with whitewashed chairs to the left. Along the wall is a comfortable bench complete with red cushions. Above what my family dubs ‘the comfy seat’ is a built in shelf lined with fresh flowers in recycled green glass bottles. They sit beneath gentle watercolour paintings in mismatched frames. The counter and kitchen take up the bulk of the opposite side of the floor. A low marble bench is home to a range of pastries and cakes, which sit alongside coffee saucers and straws. 

Genovese coffee spurts from the espresso machine next to the kitchen, where you can see the chefs working away like busy ‘Bumbles’ bees. The wall is decorated with an oversized clock, steel buckets and vintage Italian posters. A display cabinet filled with a range of decadent cakes perches at the end of the counter. Children are tempted by the glass lolly jars placed on top of the cabinet, just high enough to be out of their reach. 

Beyond the cabinet and pebbled pillars the polished concrete floor morphs into dark wooden floorboards. Glass tear-shaped vases with vibrant flowers hang suspended from striped yellow ribbons, dangling precariously above large white block letters that spell ‘BUMBLES’. 

Behind the vases, a round wooden table sits on a patterned rug, surrounded by smaller tables. All are adorned with flowers and lit tea candles, which are scattered around the entire café. Tiered paper lights hang from the ceiling beside orange flags, while old black and white photographs portray a simpler Surfers Paradise from times gone by.

The back wall is plastered with photographs and magazine cuttings, framed by black felt tip pen rectangles. A door breaks up the display and beckons through to a cosy library, where shelves laden with books surround a long, communal table. Our waitress explains that people swap their books and ‘borrow’ them, but somehow their collection seems to grow rather than shrink. Although there are a few magazines strewn across the table, all four occupants of this space are making the most of the free Wi-Fi on their laptops and iPads, oblivious to the treasures on the shelves behind them; a sign of the times.

The final area is a private dining room decked out in a dual palette of smart teal and cool whites, evoking a New Hampshire summer home. The white, ceramic table is punctuated with mirrored tiles and features a centrepiece of blue glass bottles with long stemmed red roses. Decorative white china plates hang from the blue walls surrounding the table, which can accommodate 12, while lights made from paper leaves cascade from the ceiling. 

From hollow shell lamps to wooden sea-themed mobiles on the windows, the décor in this beachy-chic café is thrown together with careless perfection. We visited for breakfast, and although the food was decent, the decor outshone our meal. The friendly and relaxed waitress who served us was from Manchester; she answered all our questions with ease and made us feel welcome. 

Although I was tempted by the potato rosti with smoked salmon, goat’s cheese, avocado and lemon herb hollandaise, I decided on the fruit toast, which was possibly the best I have ever tasted. Chock-full of figs, apricots, walnuts and pistachios, it was a wonder there was enough bread to hold it together. It arrived with pre-packaged butter, which was a bit of a let down, but the gluey, homemade fig jam more than compensated. 

Unfortunately, the vanilla poached pear compote paled in comparison to the fig toast. Served in a deep bowl with thick cream on the side, there was little to differentiate the pears from their canned counterparts. 

We also ordered the savoury mince and Turkish toast, a simple but interesting breakfast item. The toast was presented beside a small porcelain bowl filled with beef mince that reminded me of my mother’s bolognaise. It was reportedly tasty, but not substantial enough to satisfy a hungry bloke. Perhaps he should have ordered the Bumbles big breakfast of two eggs, bacon, eye fillet, sausages, hash browns, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast! 

The Bumbles menu has a range of sides that you can order with toast. Options include avocado and goat’s cheese, tomato and Persian feta, baked beans and crispy speck, amongst other combinations. We ordered avocado and feta on rye toast with a side of poached eggs. Although the avocado was forgotten, it was a simple and filling dish.

The youngest of the group scoffed down three “wyllie sausage pillows,” which are basically small, herbed sausages served with tomato sauce and white bread (no crusts of course) held together with cocktail toothpicks. According to the menu, a little boy called Ben Wyllie created the meal and kids are challenged by the phrase “how many can you manage?”

Surrounded by fresh flowers, flickering candles and free Wi-Fi, it would be easy to stay inside all day at Bumbles. However on this particular morning, the sun called us outside. This gorgeous little café is a must visit if you’re on the Gold Coast, and the view from the seats outside isn’t half bad either.

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  1. The food looks delicious. There's no better place to enjoy such good food than on an equally great-looking coast.

    1. It was very tasty indeed, but the place itself is just so lovely. I visit every time I'm in Queensland, without fail!